Thursday, September 2, 2021

Next Week: Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity


The (hopefully) annual (again) Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference kicks off one week from today. I missed the first C3 but have attended all since. It and Bouchercon are the anchors of my annual conference schedule.


For those unfamiliar, C3 is a multi-genre conference that takes place in the late summer or early fall in Columbia MD and runs from noon Friday through noon on Sunday; this year’s dates are September 10 – 12. Special guests this year are Hank Phillippi Ryan, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kathleen Barber, and James Grady.



12:00 Welcoming session

12:45 – 4:30 Panels. I’m up at 1:45 as part of Norwood Holland’s discussion of “Pitfalls to Avoid When writing a Series.” The Beloved Spouse™ follows as a participant in Denise Camacho’s always entertaining “Living With a Professional Liar.”

4:30 Cash bar, book signings, and social hour. (This event is free and open to the public.)

6:00 Dinner (Included with conference fee. They’re always good.) After dinner, Hank Phillippi Ryan will deliver her keynote speech. (Alas, virtually, as scheduling issues made it impossible for her to be there in person.) Previous years have included the likes of Reed Farrel Coleman, Jeffrey Deaver, Jamie Frevoletti ,Heather Graham, Julie Hyzy, Brad Parks, and others of that ilk in this slot.

After keynote: Noir at the Bar. I’m hosting this year. Readers include Mark Bergin, Bruce Robert Coffin, Ef Deal, Teel James Glenn, Maria Kelson, Lanny Larcinese, Jeff Markowitz, and Kelli Peacock. The event is open to the public.

After the readings: Bar time. Enjoying yourself at the bar does not require you to be a drinker. Think of it as socializing with optional lubricant.



8:00 Breakfast buffet. (Included with conference fee.)

9:00 Panels. I’m up at 10:00 to moderate a panel I’m ecstatic about: “Just the Facts, Ma’am” with Mark Bergin, Bruce Robert Coffin, and Jeffery James Higgins. We’ll discuss how actual police methods and practices differ from what you might read.

At 11:00 I’m past of the “Write Drunk, Edit Sober?” panel moderated by Ellen Butler. (WDES was Hemingway’s advice to writers.)

12:00 Lunch. (Included with conference fee.) For dessert, Hank Phillippi      Ryan interviews Kathleen Butler through the miracle of modern technology.

1:15 Panels. I’m back at 1:15 for “Murder is Everywhere,” moderated by Jeff Markowitz.

4:30 Cash bar, book signings, and social hour. (This event is free and open to the public.)

6:00 Dinner, followed by a keynote speech by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

After dinner: Skip the noir and go directly to the bar.



8:00 Breakfast buffet. (Included with conference fee.) Austin Camacho interviews James Grady.

9:15 – 12:15 Panels


This year’s C3 is special for me. Last year’s had to be canceled due to covid, and, while there will still be some restrictions, this is the first time I’ll be in the company of other writers since Dallas Bouchercon in November 2019. (The event for which I had my most recent haircut.) I’m also delighted to be assigned panels with so many friends I’ve made here at C3 over the years. It will be like homecoming.


If you’re on the fence about coming, attendance is typically under 100, which is a good thing, especially if you’re new to conferences. Larger events, such as Bouchercon, can be intimidating for virgins. (First-time conference goers; actual virgins have nothing to fear.) At C3 you can eat meals with a favorite author, or meet someone new you decide is worth checking out. Even though something is always going on, the pace is more relaxed than larger cons, which makes it much easier to strike up a conversation.


Full disclosure: I have no financial interest in C3. The organizers are friends of mine, but that has not unduly affected the descriptions above. Come yourself and they’ll likely become friends of yours, as well. (Not to get too far into the whole “Friends of mine, friends of ours” thing.) More detailed information is on the C3 web site.

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